Local troop leader disagrees with changing BSA 'gay' policy
On Monday, a big announcement from the Boy Scouts of America has eastern Idahoans talking.
The organization's national governing board is considering doing away with a longstanding policy banning openly gay scouts and scout leaders.
A woman who answered the telephone at BSA's eastern Idaho governing body -- the Grand Teton Council -- said the local group would not make a comment, and referred our station to the national center.
The Boy Scouts of America announced in a press release on Monday that considerations were being made to possibly overturn the policy.
While the Grand Teton Council remained silent on Monday, some community members connected with the BSA did speak out about the proposed change.
"I would probably be more in favor with not allowing anyone that's homosexual to be a troop leader," said BSA troop leader Justin Murdoch by phone.
Murdoch is the troop leader for Bonneville County area troop #325. He said he is not in favor of his organization lifting a ban on openly gay scouts and troop leaders.
"We hear and see so many cases where children and young people are taken advantage of," said Murdoch. "I just don't want to see any opportunity for that to take place."
Murdoch said it's a matter of child safety in the organization.
"I don't think that puts kids in a very good position," he said.
Idaho Falls equality activist John Schroeder said Murdoch's concerns are part of the very same misconception about the gay community he hopes will be erased along with the BSA's current umbrella policy.
"That's a false belief that needs to be corrected," said Schroeder. "Gays and lesbians are no more likely to be a threat to young children than straight people."
Schroeder is openly gay and lives with his partner Mike in Idaho Falls. He was a Cub Scout in the late 1950s.
BSA said in its press release if the organization policy were changed, gay membership policies would be up to local leadership. Schroeder said he hopes local troops would follow suit.
"I think that to continue the harm and misinformation that the Boy Scouts central organization has perpetrated for many years now would be wrong," he said. "It harms people. It hurts people."
The BSA said further discussion about a possible policy change will occur in February at the organization's biannual meeting.
On Monday, our station asked Facebook users if a change to BSA policy would affect their perception of the organization.
You can read the comments on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LocalNews8
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